Could this be the ESV Preaching Bible Crossway fans have been eagerly anticipating? Upon first impressions, my answer to that question will be answered in the review below. I received this Bible (courtesy of Crossway) with high hopes and expectations. That said, I will share the good and the bad.
First the “bad.” Crossway has done such an excellent job with Goatskin Bibles in the past that my expectations were very high for this Bible. Having seen the following Crossway Goatskin Editions: Omega Thinline Reference, Heirloom Thinline, Heirloom Wide Margin and Legacy, I expected more of the same from Crossway. Regretfully that is not the case for this particular Bible. The goatskin feels and smells inferior to the Bibles mentioned above–it almost has a chemically smell to it (similar to the Premier Collection Goatskin). I am not sure if the smell derives from the goatskin or the liner that was chosen. The goatskin is flexible and somewhat floppy, but still seems inferior to their other Goatskin editions. The Bible is printed and bound in China, so perhaps that has something to do with the quality seeming to be inferior to Jongbloed binding. My hope is that the smell will dissipate over time. If I had not owned any of the Bibles mentioned above, I probably would really like this Goatskin–however, you can’t not know what you already know. So for the Goatskin cover, based on having other Crossway Goatskins, I would give it a B-.
What about the focus on it being a Preaching Bible? It pains me to say this, but it does not seem like a preaching Bible at all. It is a single column, 10pt font Bible that seems like a “Large Print” Legacy. Due to this Bible being a large print single column layout, the overall size is quite large (see specs below). Not as thick as an ESV Study Bible, but still, it’s heavy and big. It would not be a good one handed preaching Bible (unless you are looking to work in some bicep curls while preaching). Crossway advertises that the verse numbers are extra bold (to help identify when preaching), but I honestly can’t tell. The verse numbers appear to have similar boldness to the font itself. I am very confused why Crossway did not go the verse by verse route for a preaching Bible. When I have had opportunities to fill in as pulpit supply, I prefer to use a double column text layout vs. single column text layout. I was hoping to try this edition out next time I have an opportunity to preach, but being that the verse numbers are not that easy to find and it is not a verse by verse text layout, I sadly will not test this Bible in a preaching setting. If I graded this as a preaching Bible I would give it a D-.
The good! Yes there are redeeming qualities about this Bible, I promise! I simply wanted to get the “bad” out of the way. First off, this Bible is named incorrectly. It should be called the “Large Print Single Column” Bible (or the Large Print Legacy). This Bible is a joy to read. This Bible gives you 10pt font, single column text layout and thick paper. These are all things I want in a dedicated reading Bible. You also get a generous 1.25″ outer margin to take notes. The text is line matched, so ghosting is not going to be a problem (I would argue the line matching is not perfect, but for the most part is done fairly well). Because of the Bible being single column, poetry sections look amazing, especially compared to double column layouts. To be honest, this is not a bad Bible, but I think Crossway may have named or marketed it incorrectly. I would not personally use this as a preaching and teaching Bible, but more of a reading Bible. If you are looking for a large print, single column, goatskin, edgelined ESV Bible, then this is for you. As a reading Bible, I give it an A-.
Very readable, but not very “preachable.” The large 10pt line matched font is easy to read for almost anyone. This edition has line matched text which also helps increase readability. For single column lovers looking for a larger print to read–they will love this Bible. Overall, very readable.
I would not recommend this Bible for preaching, but I would recommend this Bible for reading. If you are looking for a nice single column Bible for extended readings, outside of the ESV Readers Set, there isn’t much better. Due to this Bible’s large size, it is not very portable. All of that to say, my number one recommended use for this Bible would be for extended readings, not preaching.
Font Size: 10pt font
# of Columns: Single column text
Margins: 1.25″ of outside margin
Red Letter/Black Letter: Black Letter
Cover: Black Goatskin
Lays Flat: Yes
Estimated Life: Depending on usage, it could last a lifetime
Art Gilting: Red under gold (gilting is not very bold on this edition)
Paper Quality: White in color, and decently weighted
LxWxD: 10″ x 6.75″ x 1.5″
# of ribbons: Two, Black
# of maps: yes, 8 maps in the back
Cross References: None
Text Edition: 2016 ESV text edition